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CHAPTER IV

To whom appertained the Mixed Life

THE third kind of life that is called the mixed life belongeth to Prelates of holy Church and to pastors and curates who have charge and superiority over other men or women, for to teach and govern them, both as to their bodies and as to their souls, and principally to animate and guide them in the performance of the deeds of mercy both corporal and spiritual towards their Christian brethren. Unto these men of the mixed life it appertaineth sometimes to use the works of mercy in active life, in help and sustenance of themselves and of their subjects and of others also, and sometimes for to leave all manner of external businesses and to give themselves to contemplative exercises, as to prayer and meditations, reading of holy Scriptures or other good books or to some other spiritual exercises, according to what they shall feel themselves disposed. Also, this mixed life appertaineth to some temporal men, who are owners of much land and goods and have withal some dominion or mastership over other men, for to govern and sustain them, as a father hath over his children, and a master over his servants, and a lord over his tenants; the which men have received also of our Lord's gift, the grace of Devotion, and in some measure a taste and practice of spiritual exercise. Unto these men, I say, belongeth the foresaid mixed life, that is both active and contemplative; for if these men having (as they have) such external charge and cares lying on them, out of some obligation or necessity, would altogether leave or neglect such charge and businesses of the world pertaining to them, and give themselves wholly to the exercises of contemplative life, they would not do well in so doing, for they observe not the order of charity; for charity (as thou well knowest) consisteth in the love of God and of thy Christian brethren. And therefore he that hath charity in him, will not by occasion of his devotions, used immoderately towards God, omit that which he ought to do towards his Christian brother, but will serve both God and them for God, at divers times, as now the one and then the other; for he that for the loving of God in Contemplation leaveth the loving of his Christian brethren, and doth not perform towards them that which he ought, and is bound unto, he fulfilleth not the rule and obligation of charity. Likewise on the contrary side whoso hath so great a regard to the works of the active life and to the business of the world that for the love of his Christian brethren, and the serving of them, he leaveth or neglecteth all spiritual exercises, God having given him a call thereunto, he fulfilleth not charity, and so saith St Gregory. For though our Saviour Christ, for to stir up some to use the mixed life, took upon Himself the person of such manner of men, i.e., both of Prelates and of such other as are of the said mixed estate, and gave them example by His own working that they should upon occasion use the exercises of the mixed life, as He Himself did at those times that He spoke with men and meddled with them, showing and exercising His deeds of mercy towards them, taught the ignorant by His preaching, visited the sick and healed them of their diseases, fed the hungry and comforted the sorrowful; nevertheless, at other times He left the conversation of worldly men, and even of His own disciples, and went into the desert upon the hills, and continued there all night all alone in prayers, as the Gospel testifieth to us. And this mixed life did our Lord in Himself exercise, and show in the same manner, for an example to all other men that have taken on them the state or condition that requireth the exercises of the said mixed life, that is to say, that they should sometimes apply themselves to the external affairs and businesses belonging to their charge, and to the curing of such their Christian brethren as pertain to them to look to, instruct or provide for; and this to do according to reason and discretion and their need; and at another time to give themselves to devotion and to the exercises of a Contemplative life, being principally (as before I have said) reading and praying.

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